Your weekly travel and aviation Quote-a

15 July, 2022

At a time of crisis, it is important that we share our insights and experience, helping each other to contain and mitigate the impact of COVID-19. CTC – Corporate Travel Community each week brings you a roundup of the most thought-provoking and interesting comments from those industry leaders in the know.

UNWTO: Recovery of cross border travel requires easing of restrictions 'as far as possible'

UNWTO reported the 'High-Level Meeting on Safe International Travel', held in Ibiza on 07/08-Jul-2022, focused on "the lessons learned from the impact of the pandemic on international mobility and tourism, to build resilience to face future crises". UNWTO reported: "Participants recognised that the recovery of cross-border travel requires easing and lifting COVID-related travel restrictions as far as possible, while ensuring public health considerations". UNWTO secretary general Zurab Pololikashvili stated: "Vaccine equity remains a big challenge", adding: "Implementing what we have learned is critical for how we deal with future pandemics, as we work to consolidating how we grow back better".

Jet2 chairman: Airports 'Have been woefully illprepared and poorly resourced'

Jet2 plc executive chairman Philip Meeson stated the LCC's operations in recent months have been challenged by "suppliers' failure to adequately plan and resource for the post-COVID operational start up". Mr Meeson also said most of the carrier's 10 UK airport bases "have been woefully ill‐prepared and poorly resourced for the volume of customers they could reasonably expect", adding: "Inexcusable, bearing in mind our flights have been on sale for many months and our load factors are quite normal".

Boeing will take time to develop new narrowbody, awaiting new engine technology: CEO

Boeing president and CEO David Calhoun said he would launch a new narrowbody aircraft programme "if I thought there was an engine out there that would give me 15% [fuel burn improvement], or an engine that was going to get certified with an open architecture in the next eight to 10 years". However, Mr Calhoun added: "I don't believe that's going to happen". He said: "I think I've got a window. I want to build the foundation, and when we pick the plane, hopefully the propulsion technologies will be a little further along. And I'm as much interested in emissions as I am in efficiency. We have the time to get it right".

Jet Airways CEO: Upper airfare limits hinder Indian airlines' post-pandemic growth potential

Jet Airways CEO Sanjiv Kapoor stated India's airfare cap is no longer required as it prevents the country's aviation sector from achieving its post-pandemic growth potential. Mr Kapoor noted it is preferable to achieve higher revenues with higher fares rather than higher passenger load factors, as revenue is a combined product of airfares and passenger load factors. Mr Kapoor said India's long term growth potential is "tremendous" as it is a "very under-penetrated market", adding that in order for this potential to be achieved, fare limits must be removed and airlines need to grow. Upper and lower fare limits were introduced by India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation in May-2020, to protect airline and traveller interests.

IATA director general: 'Governments must improve their understanding of how aviation operates'

IATA director general Willie Walsh stated solutions are being "urgently" implemented to address "strains in the system" as travel increases into the peak northern summer season. Mr Walsh said: "Airlines, airports and governments are working together, however, standing up the workforce needed to meet growing demand will take time and require patience in the few locations where the bottlenecks are the most severe". He added: "In the longer term, governments must improve their understanding of how aviation operates and work more closely with airports and airlines. Having created so much uncertainty with knee-jerk COVID-19 policy flipflops and avoiding most opportunities to work in unison based on global standards, their actions did little to enable a smooth ramping-up of activity".

Dassault Aviation: A 'long time' until commercial aviation returns to pre pandemic levels

Dassault Aviation head of Southeast Asia and Pacific for civil aircraft Didier Raynard stated: "It'll probably take a long time or a few years [for commercial aviation] to come back to the previous level [pre-pandemic]". Mr Raynard said: "If you have started travelling again, you can see that there is much less frequency [of commercial flights]. It means that you have much less choice in terms of timing". He added: "The pandemic has probably accelerated the decision of some users that were probably chartering before and see the real value of business aviation".

FlySafair: Lack of capacity creates 'an appealing time for a new airline' in South Africa

FlySafair chief marketing officer Kirby Gordon commented on the lack of capacity in the South African market following the liquidation of Comair (South Africa), stating: "It is an appealing time for a new airline to emerge". Mr Gordon added: "It is difficult to say what the sustainability of that could be because many have tried and failed". He said FlySafair views the situation as "an opportunity to continue to add aircraft and build up our capacity".

Delta Air Lines was operating 'too hot in the airport environment' post-COVID-19: CEO

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian, via the carrier's 2Q2022 earnings call, stated the carrier was running "too hot in the airport environment" as the industry recovered from COVID-19. Mr Bastian specified placing large narrowbody aircraft in domestic operations resulted in shortened boarding windows, adding Delta "didn't have enough time for our customers". Mr Bastian reported the carrier's newly extended boarding and disembarking windows and connection times allow Delta services to depart early when ready, providing flexibility and improved baggage operations.

Manchester Airports Group CEO: Recruitment to meet increased demand taking longer than anticipated

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) CEO Charlie Cornish said passenger levels across the MAG network are "growing quickly back towards what they were before the pandemic", adding: "The pace of that recovery has brought its own challenges, and recruitment has taken longer and been more difficult than we anticipated". The company has added over 1500 new staff since Jan-2022.

IndiGo hoping to reach pre-pandemic traffic levels by 2Q2022: CEO

IndiGo CEO Ronojoy Dutta reported the carrier hopes to reach pre-COVID-19 traffic levels by 2Q2022. Mr Dutta noted the carrier has witnessed a steady recovery between COVID-19 waves, adding IndiGo is "well-positioned to leverage all the growth opportunities around us" with its modern fleet and a stronger economic environment.

Flyr CEO: Flyr has proved there is room for an additional Norwegian airline

Flyr stated Jun-2022 operations were "characterised by full flights to the holiday destinations" having experienced a strong growth in traffic following the start of the school holidays. The carrier reported passenger traffic in Jun-2022 increased 36% month-to-month to 203,200, while load factor reached 78.8%. CEO Tonje Wikstrøm Frislid stated the carrier "has proved that there is room for an additional Norwegian airline, with focus on giving the passengers a good experience at low prices". Ms Wikstrøm Frislid added the airline expects high passenger numbers to continue in Jul-2022.

Kenya Airways chairman: ‘We have been a drain on the exchequer’

Kenya Airways chairman Michael Joseph said: "We have been a drain on the exchequer. We expect to move out of that situation and become profitable and self financing. We believe that we will no longer be dependent on Treasury and therefore on taxpayers to keep us going". Group MD and CEO Allan Kilavuka stated the airline hopes to break even by 2024. Mr Kilavuka said the company is "dealing with legacy issues mostly around cost, which are structural and complicated to deal with". He said the airline is working to reduce costs in areas such as distribution and ground handling "by dealing with the inefficiencies in these areas".

SAS: Lack of capacity affecting ability to rebook passengers with other airlines

SAS press contact Tonje Sund responded to the SAS Pilot Group's (SPG) termination of its charter exemption, stating it does not share the view that it is easy to find alternative home trips to the destinations that the SPG mentions. Ms Sund added: "Europe is in the middle of an extremely challenging summer with a lack of capacity, which makes it very difficult to rebook passengers to other airlines". SAS and SPG Pilots previously reached agreement for the pilots to break their strike to fly stranded passengers back to Scandinavia over the weekend commencing 08-Jul-2022.

Akasa Air to offer 'very affordable' fares; looking ‘in all directions’ for international routes: CEO

Akasa Air CEO Vinay Dube stated the airline intends to offer "very affordable" airfares, supported by its cost structure. Mr Dube also said Akasa will not need to take market share from other airlines due to the rapid growth of the Indian market, stating: "Our market is so big and growing so rapidly. We just need to worry about satisfying customers, satisfying employees, and a competitive cost structure". On the airline's plans to operate international services, he added: "Our focus is going to be in all directions". Mr Dube said the carrier will not just focus on markets such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, the Middle East or Southeast Asia, commenting: "We've got assets that are movable, we've got a very good range for the [737] MAX and we will fly wherever we need to fly".

ECA president: Chaotic summer may be unavoidable but more must be done to prevent a 'tragic one'

European Cockpit Association (ECA) president Otjan de Bruijn stated European aviation's summer disruptions are "the clear consequence of years of cost cutting, social dumping, bad management, and a lack of social sustainability vision in all levels of the aviation industry". ECA highlighted pilots are being confronted with a variety of new issues in addition to regular disruptions, and called on EASA to "show leadership and issue clear safety guidance to the industry". ECA estimated almost a third of the entire pilot population in Europe (18,000 pilots) lost their job or were put on furlough during the COVID-19 crisis, with the increased pressure on the remaining workforce leading to "dangerously rising levels of air crew fatigue". Mr de Bruijn said the opportunity to emerge from the pandemic "stronger, resilient, and ready to face the challenges ahead seems to have been largely wasted" and added "we may not be able to prevent a chaotic summer, but we must do all we can to prevent a tragic one".